Australia’s top-ranked squash player back home in Yamba
THREE weeks at home gives Cameron Pilley a chance to catch up with friends and family at his favourite cafes, and possibly even fit in a spot of backgammon.
But it's not a complete break from the rigours of the professional tour for Australia's No.1 squash player from Yamba.
"I'll put the feet up for a little bit, but also some hard training as well," Pilley said when asked how he will use his time on the Clarence Coast. "I'll do a bit of fitness on the Yamba hills."
An impressive back end to 2014, including Commonwealth Games doubles gold and a maiden World Championship quarter-finals appearance, saw the 32-year-old bounce back into the world top 20, finishing the year at 18.
Pilley is now on a mission to keep the mercury rising and is preparing to join all the best players in the world at the Tournament of Champions in New York from January 16 to 23.
"The first six months of the year was a bit of a mixed bag of results," he said.
"Then Commonwealth Games was a huge high for me, and I'm really looking forward to heading over to New York and trying to match it with them over there."
Pilley didn't quite finish off the year in ideal fashion, beaten by North Coast compatriot Ryan Cuskelly 12-10, 12-10, 12-10 in the final of the Australian Closed Championships on December 14.
"I didn't have the best prep leading in, but during the tournament I actually felt quite good," Pilley said.
"But, on the day, you just can't take anyone for granted and that was the best I've seen Ryan play in the last six or seven months. I was below my best and he took full advantage."
Pilley has no shortage of hitting partners to maintain his form during this current training period, including Cuskelly at Evans Head.
Prior to Christmas, Pilley visited Cairns to run coaching clinics and play an exhibition match with Steve Finitsis - the player he beat in the semi-final to play Cuskelly.
"When Ryan and I are back we take turns to travel and train," Pilley said.
"There's also some good young guys on the Gold Coast.
"And I could see if some of the local guys like Tony McFarlane and Michael Davidson are up for a bit of a sweat. Tony was cleaning up the local championships when I was growing up and still is now."
Pilley has also been joined by his Danish girlfriend and the world's 26th-ranked female player, Line Hansen, who arrived just in time for Christmas direct from the Women's World Championship in Egypt.
Looking further down the track, Pilley has one major aim before he considers putting the racquet in the rack.
"A bit of a goal for me is to compete at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. That's in 2018 and I will be 35," he said.
"It would be so good to get the home support there."